Millennials are suffering from monetary infidelity |

Happy Valentine’s Day, honey. Hey did you know i cheated on you (So ​​financially.)

This is the unfortunate – and unromantic – reality for millions of Americans. Four in ten adults in the United States who are married, have a civil partnership, or otherwise live together are keeping a large amount of money a secret from their current partner. This is the result of a survey recently commissioned by our sister site

Millennials (25-40 years old) are the biggest offenders. Slightly more than half (51 percent) commit financial infidelity to their current partner. For Gen Xern (41-56 years) the numbers drop to 41 percent and for baby boomers (57-75 years) to 33 percent.

Secret spending is the biggest culprit across the board. About 30 percent of the paired people admit to spending more than their partner would be okay with. Secret debts follow with 11 percent, followed by a hidden savings account (9 percent), a secret checking account (7 percent) and an undisclosed credit card (also 7 percent).

Why do people do it

The most common explanation was “privacy / wanting to control my own finances”, which was given by 30 percent of secret keepers. Next was “It never came up / I never felt the need to share” (25 percent), followed by:

  • “I am embarrassed how I deal with money” (23 percent)
  • “I don’t trust my partner with any money” (23 percent)
  • “In the event that the relationship ends badly” (21 percent)
  • “I needed the money to support an addiction” (17 percent)

My guess is that millennials are most likely to commit financial infidelity because they tend to marry later than members of previous generations, and they are more likely to be members of two-income households. Millennials are also more likely than older adults to have divorced parents, which can encourage them to throw away money just in case their own relationship doesn’t last. The theory is often like this: “I did it alone for a long time. I work hard for my salary. I can do whatever I want with my money. “

Why is that a problem?

It is hard enough achieving your financial goals if you are pulling in the same direction. It’s almost impossible when you’re working against each other. And the emotional consequences can be even more severe than the financial concerns.

A breach of trust can lead the other person to say, “Wow. I really thought I knew you. What else am I missing? “It’s a very uncomfortable way to go. Once trust is lost, it’s hard to get it back. In fact, over a quarter of adults in the US (28 percent) believe that financial infidelity is worse than physical cheating. It’s almost like that many like the 38 percent who believe physical cheating is worse (the rest couldn’t decide).

What to do?

The healing is communication. We have to get better as a society when we discuss money. A 2019 survey by found that the only thing more difficult to discuss than credit card debt is our love lives. Financial infidelity ties the two together, so it’s no wonder this is such a common problem.

“Yours, mine, and our” is an approach that works for many couples. If you all want your own pot of money with no questions asked, that’s fine, but you need to agree the parameters in advance. This ensures that you are aligned and working towards your broader goals.

If you can each agree on a percentage or dollar amount that you can name yourself – say, $ 100 per paycheck – I think that can work. Some people like the autonomy. They don’t want the other person looking over their shoulder, nor do they want to feel like they are subsidizing their partner’s shoe fetish, fantasy football hobby, or evenings out with friends. What doesn’t work is for one person (or both) to suck up money for better or for worse. The rest of your funds should be combined for common bills, savings, and future planning.

Even if it is uncomfortable, we have to solve these problems. Secrets pain. The longer they fester, the greater the damage. If you’ve made any secret expenses or had secret debts or hidden financial accounts, you should get clean immediately. Be honest and work it through together. It’s far better than having the other person find out for themselves. And let’s face it, they probably will.

Do you have a question about credit cards? Write me an email at and I’ll be happy to help.

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